“As an academic, I saw students struggling to put all the pieces together and be successful in their nursing education,” she says. “I knew if I could work with them individually, they would be able to learn in a less stressful environment.”
Starting her own company was a bit frightening, Stich says. She knew her service was needed but wasn’t sure if students could afford to pay for tutoring. As a private, for-profit business, Student Nurse Coach was not eligible for government grant funding, so start-up money came from family savings.
Lahoma Samuels, RN, a single mother of four daughters, began studying with “Dr. Thelma” after two unsuccessful attempts to pass the NCLEX. “She was very knowledgeable, patient, and caring,” Samuels says. “She worked with me several times a week in preparation for the exam, and it all paid off because I did pass the exam.” Samuels is a full-time home health nurse in Winchester, Virginia, USA.
Samuels and other former students have remained in contact with Stich.
“My greatest satisfaction comes when my students tell me that they are successful in their endeavors,” Stich says. “Many students email me long after they left to tell me what they are doing or reach out for professional advice.”
Despite the demands of her business, Stich has found time to do volunteer work with adults and children at a homeless shelter. Carol Patterson, MSN, RN, CNE, who works with Stich at the shelter, says her colleague is creative in working with a population that needs understanding and compassion.
“What impresses me most is that Dr. Stich can reach out to adults and children through her understanding of holistic needs,” Patterson says. “She easily establishes a positive rapport and, through gentleness, can convey information and guidance in a setting which is often disruptive and intense.”
Patterson, an associate professor of nursing at Raritan Valley Community College in North Branch, New Jersey, says Stich can see the learner’s point of view and is considerate of students’ needs without compromising high academic standards. “Her nurturing has been invaluable to me in my own teaching,” Patterson adds.